Joe Greeves
November 1, 2009

Once the car was solid, efforts turned to rebuilding the Cyclone's 289ci V-8. After boring the motor 0.030-inch over and fitting it with oversize pistons, engine builder Chi Chi Diaz turned up the heat using a Cobra 302 hydraulic cam and Mallory electronic distributor with Flame Thrower coil for a hotter spark. With a nod to modern fuel, the iron heads were modified to accept unleaded and they help to create the 9.3:1 compression ratio in the cylinders. A more efficient Edelbrock 600 cfm carb increased the airflow over the factory original while the Doug's 2 1/2-inch primary Tri-Y headers were the perfect choice, offering improved scavenging and fitting inside the close confines of the Comet engine room. The headers feed 4-inch collectors and a pair of rumbling MagnaFlow mufflers. To counteract all that new acceleration and activate the new discs, Dearborn Classics had just the right compact power brake booster, small enough to fit on the firewall, underneath the factory cowl/fender brace. After closing up unnecessary holes in the firewall and moving the battery to the rear, the engine compart-ment was painted to match the exterior. Billet accessories sparkle like a jewelry collection on the engine itself. The newfound power from the 289 was multiplied by the rebuilt, four-speed T10 Borg Warner transmission, spinning an 8-inch rear with 3.00 gears.

Chuck loved the symmetrical styling of the car from the outset, so the customizing modifications are subtle, beginning with removing the rocker panel chrome and customizing a hoodscoop from an '08 Mustang, recontouring it to fit the flatter Comet hood. Shelby Mustang Bullet mirrors replaced the overly large originals and 18-inch Boyd Coddington Harm rims fill the wheel wells, using 7-inch wide versions up front and 8s in the rear. Fuzion ZRi tires get the power to the ground.

The interior was next and, amazingly the front buckets sport the original upholstery, although the padding has been replaced. The rear bench seat was rebuilt and reupholstered to match. Fresh black carpeting was added along with a Grant wheel and a set of six white-faced Teleflex gauges. Comfort during Florida's sultry summers comes from the new Vintage Air A/C unit, with an engine-turned stainless steel accent panel added to the bottom of the dash to accommodate the vents. Stereo was the perfect interior wrap-up addition to this long-distance cruiser, filling the cab with music, thanks to the stock-appearing but reconfigured head unit that now offers a choice of AM and FM radio, CDs, and iPod tunes. In addition to the 6 1/2-inch Kenwood component sets in the kick panels, there is a second pair of 6x9s mounted in the rear package tray.

Steve Hines added the final touch to the project, spraying the head-swiveling two-stage orange candy called Mango Lite. He teamed it with Black Pearl that's been laced with Copper Metallic, both shades from Planet Color. The completed car has become the culmination of a lifelong dream with Chuck and his Cyclone, now regulars on the Southeastern show circuit. Future plans include a new frontend with rack-and-pinion steering and, so that his dream car can travel full circle, Chuck plans to install a competition clutch that will bring him back to the dragstrip, recalling those days when the Cyclone love affair first began.

The Details

  • Chuck Winters' '65 Mercury Comet Cyclone


    • 289ci V-8, bored 0.030-inch over
    • 4.030-inch bore
    • 2.87-inch stroke
    • Cobra 302 hydraulic cam
    • Modified iron heads
    • 600 cfm Edelbrock carb
    • Mallory Electronic ignition


      • Borg Warner T10 four-speed
      • Factory clutch
      • Hurst Shifter


        • 8-inch
        • 3.00 gears


          • Doug's Tri-Y headers
          • Dual MagnaFlow mufflers


            • Front: Factory coilover-upper-arm, 1-inch lowering springs, KYB gas shocks, 1-inch sway bar
            • Rear: Heavy-duty leaf springs, KYB gas shocks, 3/4-inch sway bar, 1-inch lowering block